Concerns raised over Wooler water works plan

Local councillors have raised concerns about plans designed to help migrating fish in north Northumberland.

Sunday, 4th October 2020, 12:30 pm

A planning application has been submitted by the Environment Agency for works at the Haugh Head ford on Wooler Water, a tributary of the River Till.

The scheme includes the removal of the existing ford crossing to be replaced with a new gravel ford, the removal of the fish pass, the creation of an inset floodplain and a new replacement pedestrian footbridge.

However, an objection has been submitted by Wooler Parish Council.

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Haugh Head ford and fish pass on Wooler Water.

Cllr Mark Mather, chairman, said: “I have huge concerns with this planning application. I don’t feel the Environment Agency has listened to local residents and the view of the parish council.”

Cllr Mark Napier, via email, called for more information about the new footbridge and raised concerns about potential flood damage to properties.

"If the works end up with excess water in the main stream we are concerned our house will flood,” he added.

Concerns about the loss of habitat for other species including deer, pine martens and bats were also raised.

"While I agree the salmon need to access higher up the river… I can’t see why other species of wildlife should be pushed away,” said Cllr Napier.

Cllr Mather added: “All the houses along the A697 run on wells which come out of the aquifer. This has been raised a number of times with the Environment Agency. They have said that if it affects the aquifer they will look at it then.

"As a farmer with 350 cattle, if that well runs dry I am in major trouble. Livestock can’t be left without water and neither can the houses.”

A planning statement with the application explains that the entire Tweed catchment is subject to regulations which require all structures to have suitable fish passes to allow the free movement of salmon.

‘At present, Haugh Head ford is the only structure on the entire Tweed system that is impassable to salmon and largely impassable to sea trout and lamprey, despite the presence of a fish pass’, it notes.

A summary of the environmental effects suggests that ‘the proposals will not adversely impact flood risk’ as the inset floodplain ‘will provide additional capacity to the local channel and reduce the risk of further bank erosion.’

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